Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Breaking the News

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Breaking the News

Article excerpt

Becoming a television news journalist known for his authoritative reporting from around the world for CBS News was not Randall Pinkston's goal from childhood. After all, he grew up during the early 1960s in the racially segregated South when the notion of Black news reporters was a rarely pondered idea, if considered at all.

As a child in Mississippi, Pinkston's mind was set on becoming a lawyer since he sensed early on how much impact lawyers had on the course of the future, especially in the field of civil rights. But a chance to work in the news business while in college lured him into a career in news reporting, deferring his law school dreams for more than a decade.

As Pinkston reflects on more than 40 years as a television and radio news journalist, including 33 years at CBS, he has more than enough first-hand stories to tell.

"I've been amazed, surprised and some times shocked by the things I've witnessed," says Pinkston. "Initially, it was a part-time job and was sort of fun" he says, reflecting on his first break into the business as a local radio, then television, news reporter. "It didn't take much time to realize this was an awesome responsibility" he adds, explaining how fragile news reporting is and the impact it can have on people.

Pinkston's reporting experiences run the gamut at home and abroad. During an assignment in war-torn Afghanistan, Pinkston says he and his film crew slipped into a dark, underground hole that was actually a well-stocked, secret ammunitions depot for fighters in the war. "We did two takes and got the heck out of there" he says.

For another story, Pinkston recalls interviewing an elderly Milwaukee Black man who wrote a book about a small Indiana town hanging of several young Black men that were falsely accused of rape. The man was the last of three to be hung, only to be spared at the last minute. Pinkston describes the interview as "touching" as was his visit with the man to the town where his life nearly ended.

"A man who survived a lynching," says Pinkston. "It touched me in many, many ways."

Hired in 1972 by WLBT-TV as the first full-time Black news anchor in Mississippi, Pinkston says, contrary to widely held perceptions, he was not mistreated by his White colleagues. …

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